Just My Opinion – Promises Made, Promises Kept

In April of 2021, a group of concerned Swanton citizens and business owners met to discuss the issue of a Swanton Village Council heavily populated and led by anti-business and anti-transparency members, most notably, the Council President.  With four of six Council seats up for reelection in November, this group began a grassroots effort to find four candidates to challenge the incumbents and bring the Village of Swanton forward through difficult pandemic-related economic hardships.  The group was also determined to keep the citizenry as informed as possible by increasing the transparency of their actions, a concept that the sitting Council was vigorously fighting against.

By the time the August deadline for filing with the Fulton County Board of Elections to run for office had arrived, the grassroots effort had produced four candidates, Mikey Disbrow, Sam Disbrow, Derek Kania and Patrick Messenger.  Their shared platform was simple in its message, but powerful in its potential impact, Economic Development and Transparency in Government.  Unsurprisingly and wisely, the four incumbents chose not to run.

Soon after being sworn in, the 2022 Council, which also included Dave Pilliod and Dianne Westhoven, began to fulfill their promises to the constituency.   At their very first Council meeting they modified the Rules of Council to allow individuals the opportunity to address Council without needing to contact the Village Administrator more than four days in advance to be placed on the agenda.

The new Council voted unanimously to live-stream all Village public meetings.  Equipment was soon ordered and installed and today anyone, anywhere can watch the meetings on Facebook live or at a more convenient time within the 12 months following each broadcast.

From there, the 2022 Council focused their attention to economic development in an effort to attract more business to Swanton and increase the tax base to ease the tax burden on its citizens while still maintaining strong Village services.  Legislation was enacted to form an Economic Development Commission that would serve as an advisory board to the Council and Council members have pledged to work closely with business owners and business leaders to improve the local economy. 

Currently, Village officials are working on potentially establishing a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) surrounding the Main Street business district.  The DORA concept is designed to expand foot traffic in an area with several types of businesses, not just those that serve alcohol, and to expose and promote all the businesses within. 

Technically, no public hearing is required before acting on the DORA legislation.  However, this Council has shown it does not intend to do only what it is obligated to do, but what is right for its citizens.  A public hearing was conducted and people’s voices and concerns were heard and will being considered.

The Railroad Project, which will consist of a two-tiered observation deck close to the tracks between Chestnut Street and Zeiter Way, is moving along at a faster pace now, with the hope it will also bring people into the downtown area who will patronize local business, downtown and Airport Highway as well.

Obviously, not every decision made by this Council will be popular with the voters.  Many decisions, such as the Sewer Separation Projects, are mandated by State and/or Federal Government agencies and others are sometimes painfully necessary.  However, judging by the first nine months in session, the 2022 Swanton Village Council has been a strong and productive voice for the people, unlike its predecessor.

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